Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Jackson Doctor's Trial Begins; Controversial Campus Bake Sale; Larry King Interviewed; Proper Use of Propofol Assessed; Transgender Children may Receive Hormone Treatment

Aired September 27, 2011 - 15:00   ET


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we have all read the tabloid reports and saw the pictures over the years, Michael Jackson looking frail, wearing a face mask, being pushed in a wheelchair.

But all of those reports and all of those pictures couldn't prepare the public for the stunning piece of audio prosecutors played in court today at the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor.

I want you to listen to this, the voice of Michael Jackson in a phone call recorded the month before his death in 2009.


MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN: We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, I have never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I have never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.

I'm taking that money, a million children, children's hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital.


GRIFFIN: Ted Rowlands was inside the courtroom when that audio was played.

Ted, it was stunning to hear over here. I can't imagine what the reaction was like inside the courtroom, where you have Michael Jackson's mom and dad, sisters and brothers.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To be honest, Drew, I was not inside the courtroom during that audio, but I think anybody who heard it was shocked.

And the prosecutors used it for one reason, to show that Dr. Conrad Murray knew what he was doing to Michael Jackson, knew that the drugs that he was administering to Michael Jackson had this type of an effect. They got that recording from Murray's own cell phone, so Murray was recording Jackson in that inebriated, that just distorted state.

I mean, you could hear him just trying to slur the words. This was part of an hour-and-a-half that the prosecution went through today in their opening statements with the jury. Basically, they said Murray was incompetent and that he dropped the ball in leaving Jackson alone, not only by giving him the propofol and giving him other drugs, but he left him alone unconscious.

And they say that that was the cause of Michael Jackson's death. Now, right now, Murray's attorney, Ed Chernoff, the lead attorney, is addressing the jury in his opening statements. And he's trying to tell a different story to the jury. He says that it was Michael Jackson who accidentally killed himself trying to get propofol that Murray wouldn't give him.

Take a listen to what Chernoff told the jury just a few minutes ago.


ED CHERNOFF, ATTORNEY FOR CONRAD MURRAY: The scientific evidence will show you that when Dr. Murray left the room, Michael Jackson self- administered a dose of propofol that, with the lorazepam, created a perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly.


ROWLANDS: And Ed Chernoff is still addressing the jury here, wrapping up his opening statements before the lunch break here in L.A.

At one point, Drew, Dr. Murray actually broke down and cried, not when David Walgren, the prosecutor, was saying all of these things about him and showing these photos and all of that audio. It was when Ed Chernoff was talking about Dr. Murray and Michael Jackson first meeting.

Murray looked up a little bit, then he grabbed some tissue and actually broke down a little bit as he was listening to his attorney talk about his relationship with Michael Jackson -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: Ted, do you expect witnesses to take the stand today?


They will take the break here. And we expect the first witness to be Kenny Ortega. He was the producer of "This Is It." This is the guy that was responsible for working with Michael Jackson to launch these shows that were going to take place in London.

And what prosecutors will ask Ortega to do for this jury is to document Jackson and his health in the days leading up to his death. And specifically they will want him to testify about Jackson's health the day that he died. Ortega in the preliminary hearing said he was in fine health, great health.

The prosecution will allege that it was that that propofol, that lethal dose that took an otherwise fairly healthy 50-year-old Jackson and killed him in an instant.

GRIFFIN: All right, Ted Rowlands at the beginning of a very long trial -- Ted, we will look forward to your reports all throughout. Meanwhile, we want to tell you that just ahead Dr. Sanjay Gupta will break down how propofol affects the body, a very interesting report by Sanjay.

Well, how would you like to have this guy's job? He's repelling off a national treasure all because of the damage caused by this. That's the shaking and rattling of an earthquake under Washington. We're going to talk with a national park ranger about where repairs to the monument stand.

Then College Republicans push ahead with their bake sale where every cost is based on race. They are making a statement in California today.


GRIFFIN: Happening right now in Berkeley, California, a controversial campus bake sale we have been telling you about. You know, this is the one where the price list is based on -- what you pay based on ethnicity, race and gender.

College Republicans went ahead with the sale. Lots of students turned out even though plenty of them are upset about it. The chancellor of U.C. Berkeley condemned the bake sale in an open letter to the campus community last night. The students, well, they say they want it to be offensive. They say they are doing this to protest a bill that would allow race and gender to be considered in admissions.

Our Dan Simon is following this story.

And, Dan, what's been the reaction on campus?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a fairly peaceful thus far.

We have seen a lot of protests on U.C. Berkeley's campus over the years, but this is one of the more unusual protests we have seen. Usually, the protests involve some of the more liberal organizers. In this case, you're talking about Berkeley College Republicans who are trying to make a bold statement here about how universities across California should accept students.

Obviously there was this bill that was passed by Senate Democrats. We're waiting to see what Governor Jerry Brown is going to do, but it would roll back some of the affirmative action things that have been on the plate over the years. As you mentioned, it would allow universities to accept students based on gender, race, and ethnicity. Berkeley College Republicans upset about that, and staged this protest with the cupcakes and the prices, Drew.

GRIFFIN: So why is the school, the chancellor, coming out against what is essentially a bake sale to make a political point?

SIMON: Because, you know, it's politically incorrect what these Republicans are doing, and they know it. They said this was a satirical response, but inherently this is racist, according to the chancellor. And let's just be honest here. The Republicans, the College Republicans, agree with that. They feel that this is just an appropriate way to get attention to their cause, and it seems to be working. There are a lot of media people there today and they have no plans to back down.

GRIFFIN: And do they have plans to enforce that price list, which by the way discounts the price of cupcakes, et cetera, for minorities and women, right?

SIMON: Well, I guess that's sort of the irony in all of this. They were letting people get these cupcakes for free. There were some people who were going up who seemed to side with their cause who are saying, I should pay this amount for the cupcakes.

But the bottom line is, this was a media stunt and it worked. It got attention to their cause, and it's going on until 2:00 local time. And we will just see what happens in the future. The bottom line here is, what is Jerry Brown going to do? Will he sign this bill or not? At this point, he has not signaled his intentions, Drew.

GRIFFIN: And for those of us who don't live in California, Dan, that bill, if it becomes law, would treat the admissions of minorities and women better than I guess white guys in getting into California schools?

SIMON: It would allow admissions directors to look at one's race, ethnicity and gender in deciding whether or not they could be admitted into a public university.

This is something that historically has been allowed in California. It was rolled back some years ago. And now Senate Democrats in California looking at reviving this affirmative action-based admissions policy, Drew.

GRIFFIN: All right, Dan Simon, where else, Berkeley, California. Dan, thanks for that.

Amanda Knox, convicted murder, being compared to Jessica Rabbit, that cartoon vixen? We will explain the line here that they're drawing in court in Italy today.

And next, getting an up-close look at the damage of that Washington Monument. How long will it take until tourists can go back up and inside? We will check with the people who operate this American icon.


GRIFFIN: Tourists got a rare sight of the Washington Monument today, engineers repelling down the side of the 555-foot-tall landmark. They're checking for more damage. The monument still off-limits to tourists since the August 23 earthquake that left deep cracks. Experts say it is structurally sound, but:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL LINE, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: What we need to find out and still gather data, gather information is to whether the earthquake on August 23 resulted in any of the -- any damage that we could not determine to the naked eye.

We need to get up close and personal, so to speak, and to really see whether visually inspect with the human eye at a close range whether there are -- any damage that could, over the years, accelerate into something greater.


GRIFFIN: The monument draws millions of visitors each year and the observation deck was filled with a dozen tourists when the quake happened, forcing them to scramble out. This is video of that, as plaster, mortar rained down on them.

A park ranger helped everybody get out safely. The quake damaged the elevator system. Workers are using foam and caulk to prevent more water from seeping through the cracks.

But Nikolette Williams is the ranger you saw in the video. She joins us from Washington describing what it was like inside there.

And I heard an interesting interview from you earlier in the day, Nikolette, where you actually didn't think this was an earthquake.

NIKOLETTE WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE RANGER: No, I did not. We have never been trained in earthquake procedures. We have been trained in attack -- if we come under attack. And so that was my first thought. I thought we were under attack.

GRIFFIN: You thought -- precisely, you thought that somebody -- a bomb had gone off maybe?

WILLIAMS: I thought perhaps a bomb had gone off at the base of the monument, because the sound and the noise and the tremors really originated from the elevator shaft. I could tell it was coming up from the base. So that was my first thought.

GRIFFIN: And your second thought was to follow, I guess, your emergency procedures, which was, what, get everybody out?

WILLIAMS: To get everybody out. It didn't matter what had actually happened or what was being done to the monument. The safest place for us to be was at the ground, not at the very top.

So then I started to yell out to everyone to get down, to go down the stairwell. And they all followed me.

GRIFFIN: Panic? Any panic?

WILLIAMS: There was some panic initially. Some people were crying out. There were some yells. But then once I began to yell, go down the stairs, there was other people that were also yelling that to the others. So they really helped me in getting the visitors down. GRIFFIN: I mean, have you had a chance to look at that video and see it? And did it bring back how you felt at that moment? Because I imagine you, too, even though you're a brave park ranger, must have been pretty frightened.

WILLIAMS: I was frightened. I watched it for the first time yesterday. And as I was watching it, my hands began to shake. I was, like you said, being brought back to that moment, very terrifying.

And even as I'm going down the stairwell there, I was having trouble staying on my feet. I was getting knocked into the railing. And I kept thinking that every step could be my last step. I didn't know what was going to happen.

GRIFFIN: How long did it take to get down?

WILLIAMS: We were very fortunate. The 20 visitors that were up there, almost all of them were able to go down unassisted. There was just one elderly woman that I had to assist down the stairwell. So it took us about 10 minutes to get down.

GRIFFIN: Have you been able to get back up in there since then?

WILLIAMS: I haven't gone back up there yet, no.

GRIFFIN: What's that going to feel like?

WILLIAMS: Every week, I get a little bit more confident. So I'm sure by the time it's open and safe to go inside, I will be ready to do so.

GRIFFIN: So, now has the Park Service added earthquake training to your training ritual there in Washington, D.C.?


WILLIAMS: You know what? They haven't mentioned that yet, but we love training in the government, so I'm sure there will be one.

GRIFFIN: All right, Ranger Nikolette Williams, great job. Seems like everybody certainly was well-served by you there. And thanks for joining us.

WILLIAMS: Thanks for having me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was knocked unconscious with her right in front of me on the ground, and I never saw her again.


GRIFFIN: Victims of the Indiana fair stage collapse have decided to sue over their loss.

And she has been called a she-devil. Now Jessica Rabbit? Can Amanda Knox clear her name, or will she be sentenced to life in prison? We are live from Italy as her appeal is winding down.


GRIFFIN: Here's the top stories this hour.

Forget about a possible government shutdown for now. The feud over funding which centered on the Federal Emergency Management Agency dissolved when FEMA said it would not run out of money this week after all, which is the last week of the current fiscal year. The House now expected to pass a short-term bipartisan spending measure Thursday to keep the federal government funded through October 4.

Greece is on track to get control of its debt crisis. At least that's what its prime minister says. Listen to what he told German business leaders today.


GEORGE PAPANDREOU, GREEK PRIME MINISTER: I can guarantee that Greece will live up to all its commitments. I promise you we Greeks will soon fight our way back to growth and prosperity after this period of pain.


GRIFFIN: The prime minister is asking European Union countries for more money, and the U.S. is pressuring Europe to move fast, so the Greek debt crisis doesn't spread around the world. Germany's Parliament votes Thursday on the E.U. rescue fund.

A fitting story we brought you last week -- a chance for anyone to tell the State Department about what they think about a proposed pipeline to carry oil from Canada's tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico. Actress Daryl Hannah was among pipeline protesters arrested outside the White House this month. Hearings in Kansas and Texas attracted opponents concerned about the environmental impact, but also supporters who say the pipeline is going to create jobs.

The State Department is expected to decide whether to approve the tar sands oil pipeline by the end of the year.

To Indiana now, where a woman's same-sex partner was killed in this, last month's state fair stage collapse, is joining a federal lawsuit. This lawsuit seeks to overturn Indiana's $5 million cap on total damage payouts. The lawsuit will also push for same-sex partners in the case to be paid the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

Dueling portraits of Amanda Knox emerge in an Italian courtroom. In her murder appeal yesterday, a lawyer called her a sex-loving she- devil. Today, a lawyer for Knox's boyfriend portrayed Knox as a faithful young woman in love and compared her to Jessica Rabbit, the misunderstood femme fatale in the 1988 movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Remember this clip?


BOB HOSKINS, ACTOR: You don't know how hard it is being me and looking at a woman looking the way you do.

KATHLEEN TURNER, ACTRESS: I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.


GRIFFIN: Well, our Matthew Chance is covering Amanda Knox's appeal, which had -- took place in Perugia, Italy.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, defense lawyers in this appeal hearing determined to reject that characterization of Amanda Knox, the U.S. college student, as a she- devil, as somebody with a satanic-like personality. Those are the phrases used to describe her in court by the prosecution lawyers.

Defense lawyers today saying that she's more comparable to Jessica Rabbit. She's not bad. She was just drawn that way. That's the line from the movie in which Jessica Rabbit appeared, an indication there, a reference to the way in which Amanda Knox has been painted by the media, fueled by the prosecution, as this wild woman who enjoyed extreme experiences, according to one prosecution lawyer.

She drank beer. She smoked marijuana. She had lots of guys come back to her apartment. Defense lawyers saying nothing could be further from the truth. She was a loyal woman or is a loyal woman who was in love with her Raffaele Sollecito, whose lawyers were making these comments earlier today.

They were also dwelling on the evidence, particularly the DNA evidence. And it's important, because this is the only physical evidence that actually connects Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to the murder scene. That has now been cast aside, essentially, by independent forensic experts that were brought in to assess the police work.

The defense attorneys today reminding the jury of that, in the hope that they will reconsider these murder convictions and set Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to freedom.

Matthew Chance, CNN, in Perugia.


GRIFFIN: And while Matthew covers the hearing, the Amanda Knox case is being closely watched in her hometown of Seattle, especially at Knox's high school. She went to the prestigious Seattle Prep on a scholarship. Students and teachers there have held fund-raisers for Knox's defense.

And that has not been without controversy. The school's headmaster has been criticized for supporting Knox. Kent Hickey says he didn't even know her since he came to the school after she graduated, but he's come to know her through letters Amanda Knox has sent from prison and says she would be welcome back and hopefully soon.


KENT HICKEY, PRESIDENT, SEATTLE PREP: I think that if she doesn't win this appeal and let's say she's in prison for 26 years -- I am afraid of that -- and I'm -- I have thought about that a lot.

I'm really committed to making sure that I don't forget, that, in other words, when the furor dies down around the world if that were to happen, I want to make sure that we continue to care for her as a person, as one of our graduates, even if she's in that jail. But I pray to God that that won't happen.


GRIFFIN: Matthew Chance reports that we may learn as early as this weekend if Amanda Knox will go free or if she will serve out her prison sentence on her murder conviction in Italy.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was pretty quick. You just gave some of the medication.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, 10 minutes.

GUPTA: Five, 10 minutes. He's gone from being completely awake to completely asleep.


GRIFFIN: With the Michael Jackson death trial under way, many people are asking about the drug that was in his system when he died. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the power of propofol.

Then, the former king of prime time, Larry King, honored with a lifetime achievement award. And he will join us in just a few minutes to talk Emmy.


GRIFFIN: If you haven't heard this already today, I want you to hear how Michael Jackson sounded a month before he died.


GRIFFIN: Prosecutors claim Dr. Conrad Murray's recklessness with the drug Propofol cost Michael Jackson's life. Now Sanjay Gupta takes you inside the operating room to show you just how quickly Propofol works.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So we are here inside the operating room with Dr. Gershon, a chief of anesthesiologist. Propofol is a medicine he uses all the time. Is this right over here?


GUPTA: It looks like milk of magnesia.

GERSHON: Yes. We have to monitor his EKG, we have to make sure he's breathing, see the saturation, make sure he's vent late d.

GUPTA: That's all typical.

GERSHON: Standard of care, yes.

GUPTA: OK, so the Propofol --

GERSHON: You're going to get a little sleepy, Vincent, OK? Give me some good deep breaths.

GUPTA: Take a look at his eyes, how quickly --

GERSHON: Deep breath, Vincent. You're doing great. May feel a little burning, OK?

GUPTA: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

GERSHON: There's a reason for his heart rate increasing. See, his eyes have closed.

GUPTA: His eyes closed. What else are you looking for?

GERSHON: Up here, he stopped breathing. This is watching his co2. He's not breathing and my wonderful -- is going to help him breathe.

GUPTA: Take a look. All the breathing is taking place with this bag and this mask. From that medication he wouldn't be able to breathe on his own without those things. There you can see part of the problem. Just with that much Propofol there, he stopped breathing and is going to need a breathing tube.


GUPTA: What's so attractive about this medication?

GERSHON: Well, it's really been evident in the last 10 years or so, 15 years, it's basically a quick on/quick off. That may answer why people think this is something they can do at home, because if it gets out of hand it goes away quickly. The problem is if it gets out of hand and there's nobody there to resuscitate there, then nobody could bring you back.

GUPTA: That was pretty quick. You just gave some of the medication. Ten minutes he's gone from completely awake to completely asleep.

GERSHON: He's not breathing. I'm breathing for him.

GUPTA: One thing worth pointing out this is a hospital that uses this medication thousands of times a year, but they do use this medication in nonhospital settings like outpatient clinics. The doctors here say they've never heard of it being used in a home.


GRIFFIN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting there. We want to point out the patient you saw going under anesthesia during the piece is doing fine. He woke up shortly after surgery, no complications. We'll also bring you another live report from the Michael Jackson death trial in our next hour.

Well, there he is, the king of primetime cable. Now the rest of our industry is acknowledging what CNN already knows about him. Larry King awarded for his lifetime of achievement, but what was the highlight of all of those years in suspenders at the famous desk? I'll try to get Larry to -- oh, remember that one? Larry, you remember that one? How could you forget it?

LARRY KING, FORMER HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Who could forget that?

GRIFFIN: We'll talk to Larry King right after the break.


GRIFFIN: Trending today, he is a legend here CNN cn and around the world really as 25 years of hosting CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" part of broadcasting history. And the man himself joins me live. Last night you received a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. I know you won these Emmys before.

KING: Drew, I never got a lifetime achievement before. There are two theories you have on this. One, you've accomplished something and they're honoring you. And, two, you're not 26 years old. But it was a great thrill. It was a great thrill to have Brian Williams emcee it for me and present it. I just had -- there's no way to express how I felt. It was hard to speak.

GRIFFIN: Well, you tried. Let's hear what you did have to say when with you got that award last night.


KING: I really don't know what to say. I've never been at a loss for words. But I thank you, Brian Williams, for coming over and doing that. He's a special guy, as are all the people here, because I was lucky enough to be in a business where I really didn't have to work. It was a joy every night, radio or television, to go in and meet people from all walks of life and ask them questions and get paid for it. It was unbelievable to me.


GRIFFIN: You know, Larry, so many people watching this are maybe 26, and they don't remember how long ago you started. And I don't mean that negatively, but you built a lot of this cable TV news interview industry. Is there any one moment that sticks out in your mind to be the pinnacle? KING: I'm grateful in the program Ted Turner wrote what he thought I meant to cable television. I think the big turning point for me and maybe the network was the first Gulf War certainly but I think the Perot-Gore debate. Bill Clinton wrote in the program that that debate changed NAFTA.

Here was a cable television show in which an issue was being discussed in the United States and around the world, NAFTA affected a lot of people, and here was a program that had for the first time ever a sitting vice president debating an ordinary citizen. Al Gore and Ross Perot going at it, and the House of Representatives passed it. It was going to lose.

And Bill Clinton wrote that, I owe you big-time, because you changed that vote. Well, I didn't change it. The show changed it. As I tried to point out last night, we don't own these cameras, Drew. CNN owns the cameras. We have the privilege -- and it is a privilege -- of being on them. So if I picked a moment, that would be the moment.

GRIFFIN: I want to ask you because we're watching the Michael Jackson doctor trial unfolding. I know you'd be all over that. We're watching the Republicans try to get the nomination to run against President Obama. I know you'd be all over that, Larry. Do you miss it?

KING: I do. I don't -- I don't miss a lot of tabloid stories. I don't miss stuff that people might consider -- in other words, nothing against her, but I don't miss the Paris Hiltons of the world. But I do miss the Republican Party debate or a major trial that really affects people or a thing like the killing of Osama bin Laden. And not to go to work, you really want to go to work.

So the feeling, I would say it's mixed emotions. I think Piers is doing a terrific job. I have no envy over that. I'm happy for what I've done in this business. But sure I miss it. I want to do other things because even though I'm kind of semi-retired we do four specials a year for CNN. I'm an activist. I want to get p up and do something every day. So I can't stay inactive.

I'm doing a lot of speeches, doing a comedy tour, I've been overseas, just came back from Slovakia, of all places. The have a wonderful time there. You know they have a television network in Slovakia that is like their CNN, and they were celebrating, it's an all-news network, its tenth anniversary and they invited me over as their special guest for the day.

So I keep -- it's nice getting all these honors and hearing these things. But your question, do I miss it? A lot of the times, you bet I miss it.

GRIFFIN: Well, you got a great award last night, and I would say it's well deserved but it seems small compared to the things you've done. This guy is such a pleasure just to talk with. I've always enjoyed talking with you, Larry, even in the makeup room, probably the best time really.

KING: Me, too.

GRIFFIN: Appreciate it. Larry King.

KING: It's a great honor. Thanks so much, drew.

GRIFFIN: Take it easy.

Well, "The "L" Word" actress is kicked off a plane she says for kissing her partner. Was the airline discriminating?

Then a little boy insists he's a girl. A look at a new therapy for kids struggling with their gender identity.

But first this.


CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's time now for the help desk where we get answers to your financial questions. With me now, John Ulzheimer, the president of consumer education at And Manisha Thakor is a personal financial expert.

So Manisha, Linda asks, she'll be 65 in February, she believes her full-time retirement age is 66. Her husband is two years old. He always earns more than she does. She wants to know if she can receive spousal benefits as long as she's still employed full time.

MANISHA THAKOR, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: I'm thrilled Linda is thinking about this because figuring out when to take Social Security is like a Suduko puzzle steroids. It's enough to make anyone crazy. In this case, you need to know if you're still working there will be tax consequences. One of the things I would encourage Linda and her husband to do, talk to an hourly fee based financial planner and explore the option of delaying taking Social Security until 70. You get an eight percent annual increase if you do that a lot of people want it right away. But if they can keep the fingers off, the rewards are rich.

EVANS: Kenneth in North Carolina -- he observed that one of his credit cards does not report its credit limit to the three bureaus. Does this negatively affect his FICO-score?

JOHN ULZHEIMER, PRESIDENT OF CONSUMER EDUCATION, SMARTCREDIT.COM: It can affect your score negatively, but it doesn't necessarily always. If they carry large balances on other cards, yes, it can impact the score. This used to be a huge problem, not so prevalent anymore. The way around it is to open a new card that does report the credit limit, most of them do, transfer the balance. And you may get zero percent for some limited time. Problem solved.

EVANS: Problem solved. If you got have a question you want solved, send us an e-mail any time to


GRIFFIN: An openly gay actress says she was escorting from a plane for kissing her girlfriend. Alicia Haley, probably best known for her role on the l word, she is in the process of filing a formal complaint against Southwest Airlines. Haley says she and her girlfriend Camilla Grey weren't making out, but that they shared, quote, "one modest kiss."

Then a flight attendant told them, they say, that they needed to be aware Southwest Airlines was a family-oriented airline. She admits they got verbally upset with the flight attendant. The airline crew member says they did talk to the couple but it was, quote, "based solely on behavior, not gender."

Haley tweeted she was escorted from the flight after it landed. In a statement we just got, she and her girlfriend say, "We want to live in a society where if your loved one leans over to give you an innocent kiss on an airplane it's not labeled as excessive or not family oriented by a corporation and its employees." Southwest Airlines, by the way, is the official airline of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Well, when you first find out you're expecting, it's hard to resist buying a bunch of pink or blue, isn't it? What if your daughter doesn't relate to being a girl or your son doesn't feel like he's a boy? We found out there's help available for families like the one you're about to meet. Tommy insisted from a very young age he was a Tammy.'s camera take us to the gender family conference in California this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thinks that I'm --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you look like a girl. I think you are a girl. When you were an infant, to you, you look like a girl.

DEBRA LOBEL, TAMMY'S MOTHER: As a parent, you want your child to be happy. You want them to be as happy as they can. And we could clearly see that Thomas was a very sad boy. We've come to find out that if you give your child the opportunity to be who they are, they know very well who they are.

Try to remember back when with you were a kick, three years old, four years old, who were you? Were you a boy because you looked like a boy or were you a boy because that's what you felt like you were?

JENNIFER HASTINGS, FAMILY PRACTICE PHYSICIAN: There's no age where you're too young to know your gender because it comes from within. We're at the Gender Spectrum Family Conference, we've spent three days with families talking about all aspects of gender and transgender children.

MARIO, 14 YEARS OLD: When I was, like, little, I used to have long hair. I never wanted, like, pink beads or purple beads or anything. I never liked being called "she."

IYANNA PRAY, MARIO'S MOTHER: I thought my baby was a but it turned out to be, you know, he's actually a boy and no matter what, you know, I still love him, you know, and I'm always going to love my baby.

HASTINGS: We do have MRI evidence, brain scan evidence to show that a child what was born in a male body for all purposes is a boy but actually feels herself to be a girl has the brain structure and -- of a girl.

DR. WALTER MEYER III, PEDIATRIC ENDOCRINOLOGIST: The MRI test specifically is not helpful in making a decision whether you're a male or female when you're a child. The child's opinion about what they want to do in life, the child's feeling about what gender they are, you need to work with the child and family to figure out what should be done with this child.

PAULINE MORENO, TAMMY'S MOTHER: When we adopted Tammy at two, she had very, very little language because of developmental delays.

LOBEL: In elementary school, was actually kindergarten she went to, and it was a center for infant deaf, and she was taught more sign language and we were taught more sign language. We actually went to school also there to learn sign language and so we would understand what she was saying.




So what we've done for Tammy is to put her on hormone blockers. It's only been about a month. When she's ready she will be able to decide which way she's going to go through puberty. She will have either female hormones or she'll stop the hormone blockers and become a man.

That's what the blocker does, is buys her time to mature, and time for us to kind of catch up with her because she runs -- she's running this.

MEYER: You make the decision on when to start hormone blockers based on the puberty of the child. Very few boys undergo puberty at age 11, most start at age 12, 13, 14. Once they begin puberty then you decide to start hormone blockers.

MARIO: Eighth grade was the awkwardest moments because I started a new school and didn't nobody know who I really am.

PRAY: When you talk about that, when you say that people know me for me, you are you. What's the matter?

HASTINGS: So, I know parents whose children told them at the age of three or four or five or eight, whatever the age was, and if the parents weren't able to support their child in that gender, the common scenario is that that child disappears.

PRAY: Things that I would do to my son, I was doing to my son because, you know, people in our family it was to the fact they were rejecting him and that's my baby. Me being the person I am, I was torn. I was in the middle but I was torn between the two, you know. If I can get a message out there to all the parents who have kids that are -- that are transgender, either for male to female or female to male, I advise you to love your kids and to understand, try to understand them and be on their side, because it's hard fighting that battle alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tammy leads the way.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's the one we listen to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to allow Tammy to lead the way, because we're not transgender. And I don't necessarily -- I don't necessarily think we completely understand it.


GRIFFIN: The American psychological association warns that it is not helpful to force a child to act in a more gender conforming way. They say that when kids are forced to conform, some spiral into depression, behavioral problems, and even may have suicidal thoughts.

Well, Wolf Blitzer is here with the latest Political Ticker news about President Obama and Governor Rick Perry.


GRIFFIN: If you were waiting to see a bunch of guys jump out of the top of the Washington Monument and rappel down the sides, it's going to have to wait longer. Those clouds have put it off for one day according to the park service. They're not going to rappel off the side and see about those cracks today. We'll keep you posted when and it if that does happen.

Time for a CNN Politics update. Wolf Blitzer joining us with the latest from the CNN Political Ticker, including Governor Rick Perry and President Obama - Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's going to be a titanic struggle in the general election according to David Axelrod, the top strategist for President Obama's reelection campaign. He's been up in New Hampshire meeting with influential types up there and says this is going to be a big, big fight.

Let me give you a quote, Drew, of what David Axelrod had to say. He said "We had the wind at our back in 2008. We don't have the wind at our backs in this election. We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces." He says that this is going to be a big, big fight, and so they're moving full speed ahead.

One of the things they're doing, Drew, raising as much money as they possibly can. As you know, the president on his west coast swing through Washington state, California, now in Colorado, he's been going to fund-raisers every step of the way, deeply involved in raising money for his re-election campaign, he's going to need a lot and raising a lot so he's been doing that.

Joe Biden, the vice president, he's picking up some of the slack as well, has fund-raisers for the campaign scheduled in New York and Boston, elsewhere. They're all going to be doing a lot of fundraising. They're raising a lot of money, tens of millions of dollars each quarter. Not because there's a Democratic challenger to the president for the Democratic presidential nomination, there isn't, but they're gearing up for a general election campaign, no matter who the Republican nom my turns out to be.

One of the possibilities still remains Rick Perry, although he did not do well in the most recent debates. He's still struggling out there, still working, been on the phone with key Republicans in South Carolina. He's been trying to reassure them that he is a hardcore conservative. He's with them on most of the issues, even though he's gotten himself into deep trouble as you know because he supports in- state tuition for children of illegal immigrants in Texas. He's not backing away from that.

Also, he signed an executive order in Texas mandating if you will this HPV vaccine for 11 and 12-year-old girls in the state of Texas. He's got his own issues in this Republican race for the White House. It's all political news. We're going to have a lot more coming up, obviously, in "the situation room" at 5:00 p.m. eastern.

GRIFFIN: Wolf, look forward to it. Thanks for that from D.C.